Hurlburt recognizes Glaucoma Awareness month

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Ever had an air puff test when visiting the optometrist? During the test, a puff of air is blown into the patient’s eye in order to record the resistance of the cornea. While such a test may seem out of place in a medical facility, it is actually known as the tonometry test and is used to detect the disease, glaucoma.

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month and the 1st Special Operations Medical Group optometrists use multiple techniques to check for signs of the disease here at Hurlburt.

Glaucoma is a disease of the eyes caused by fluid buildup that creates pressure behind the eyes.

The National Eye Institute states that glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness and more than 3 million people in the United States had it in 2016.

“If glaucoma goes undetected and untreated it can lead to blindness,” said Capt. Nikki Beadle, an optometrist with the 1st SOMDG.

Glaucoma is called the “sneak thief of sight” because it causes no
symptoms and once vision is lost, it is permanent. According to the National Eye Institute, as much as 40 percent of vision can be lost without a person noticing.

For this reason, it is recommended that Air Commandos have their eyes checked at least once every two years.

“Every patient is screened for glaucoma during their appointment,” said Maj. Chad Willis, the optometry flight commander for the 1st SOMDG. “If there are signs of abnormal amounts of pressure, we then do further tests to determine if it is glaucoma or not.”

Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops or with a surgical procedure. Treatment is determined by the type of glaucoma, as there are 10 types.

January has been recognized as Glaucoma Awareness Month since 2006.

For more information about glaucoma visit